West Ham manager Manuel Pellegrini says Tottenham boss Jose Mourinho is neither his ‘friend or enemy’ ahead of their sides’ meeting on Saturday
West Ham manager Manuel Pellegrini says Jose Mourinho is “not my friend, but not my enemy” ahead of facing the new Tottenham head coach in Saturday’s London derby.
The pair will re-ignite their rivalry at the London Stadium in Mourinho’s first game as Spurs boss, after he was appointed on Wednesday following Mauricio Pochettino’s sacking.
Mourinho and Pellegrini have a chequered past with Mourinho first aiming a dig at the Chilean in his time at Real Madrid, before they clashed in the Premier League when the Portuguese was at Chelsea while Pellegrini was at Manchester City.
Pellegrini said of Mourinho: «He’s not my enemy. Everyone has the option to play football the way they want, to talk how they want to and you can’t be criticising always what I think.
«That’s why he’s not my friend, but he’s not my enemy.
«We have different ways of thinking about things, that’s the only difference we have.
«The philosophy of Pochettino is not the same as Mourinho, but he’s only been in charge of the team in two days so I don’t think he’ll try to change it properly.
«We’ll see Tottenham play a similar way [on Saturday] with some touches of what Mourinho thinks football is.»
Asked whether the 66-year-old will have a drink with Mourinho after Saturday’s game, he replied: «Maybe. I don’t have any problems [with him].
«We have been together a lot of times outside of football, and I repeat, he’s not my enemy.»
Pellegrini is under pressure at West Ham after a seven-game winless run in all competitions that includes five defeats with the club 16th in the Premier League, just five points above the relegation zone.
But Pellegrini is targeting «the most important game of the season» against rivals Spurs to turnaround their miserable form.
He said: «I trust the players a lot because I know they can do it as they’ve demonstrated a lot of times against big teams.
«I think that this international break was good for us as we had time to talk about a lot of things with the players.
«I hope that tomorrow, especially in a derby game that for our fans is the most important game of the season, we’ll see the West Ham that we saw at the beginning of the season.»